HC recommends out of turn promotion for Punjab ASI for ‘fearless stand before court’

Sofi Ahsan
Punjab and Haryana High Court (File)

A CONSISTENCY in his stand before the Punjab and Haryana High Court against a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMIC) in a criminal matter has earned an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) a recommendation for an out of turn promotion in Punjab Police.

A pision bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and BS Walia in an order said, We recommend to the Director General of Police, Punjab, to consider the case of ASI Rachhpal Singh, police station Kathu Nangal, for his out of turn promotion, if permissible in law, for assisting this court fearlessly and adhering to the stand taken by him before this court. The same shall be considered within a period of two months from today .

The HC in December 2018 had directed the Punjab government to produce a convict on January 14, 2019 for hearing on quantum of sentence after modification in his conviction in the criminal appeal. When the case came up for hearing on January 14, the government counsel through ASI Rachhpal Singh informed the HC that an application was moved before JMIC Harpreet Singh, Amritsar on January 12 for release of the convict, but no order was passed by the judicial officer. Following the submission, the HC issued notice to the JMIC who, on January 19, told the court that no such application was received by him.

However, the police, in a detailed affidavit on January 25, informed the bench that an investigation conducted by a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) revealed that the station house officer (SHO_ of the Kathua Nangal police station had received a phone call from the concerned law officer on January 11 about the HC order for producing the convict. A DDR (daily diary register) was lodged and ASI Rachhpal Singh was directed by the SHO to produce the convict before the HC in accordance with the court order.

The investigation further revealed, the court was told, that ASI Rachhpal Singh, a day after the phone call from the law officer, proceeded to the court of JMIC Harpeet Singh to obtain the production warrant of the convict and also moved an application for it. However, the police said, the JMIC perused the application and told the ASI that it was the duty of the Department of Home or DGP Jails, Punjab to produce the convict before the HC as the state has been ordered to do so.

The JMIC declined to consider the application. The police investigation in this regard was backed by call detail records and mobile tower location of the ASI, which show that he was present in the court premises on January 12 from 12.51 hours to 14.33 hours.

The police investigation, according to the court order, made the JMIC admit that the application for production warrant of the convict was indeed produced before him on January 12 but he did not pass any orders. The JMIC also tendered an unconditional and unqualified apology before the high court.

We place our appreciation on record for the stand taken by ASI Rachhpal Singh before this court. It was never expected from (JMIC) Harpreet Singh not to comply with the judgments and orders passed by this court from time to time. It is incumbent upon all the judicial officers to comply with the orders passed by the higher courts to maintain rule of law, the order reads, adding it was a serious lapse on the part of the JMIC.

However, the HC, in the same order, said the matter against the JMIC stands closed after the apology. He has again tendered unconditional and unqualified apology with an undertaking not to repeat the mistake again. We close this matter after accepting the unconditional and unqualified apology tendered by Harpreet Singh, judicial magistrate first class, Amritsar .